Trying to pinpoint exactly what depression is can be kind of difficult.
You’ve probably heard plenty about it. It’s sometimes portrayed in movies or on TV, or maybe you know someone that suffers from depression. You might even be susceptible to depression yourself.
But what is it, exactly?
What is Depression?
Major depression, also known as clinical depression, is what we’re talking about here. It can make it difficult to do basic, day-to-day activities. You might find it hard to sleep, eat, work, study, or enjoy friends and activities.
While some people experience depression only once in their lifetime, others might experience it several times.
Depression might be more common than you think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it affects nearly 7 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18.
However, depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s marked by a depressed mood, of course — but it also includes a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships, among other symptoms. Major depression also means that symptoms hang around consistently for at least two weeks.
What Are the Symptoms?
These are the common symptoms of depression to look out for. It’s important to remember that someone suffering from depression might not have all of them.
- Feeling sad, empty, or anxious
- Irritability or restlessness
- Feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Lost interest in things you normally enjoy
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Having a hard time remembering things
- Hypersomia, or sleeping too much
- Insomnia, or trouble falling and/or staying asleep
- Appetite changes
- Thoughts of suicide or death
It’s considered major depression if you have at least five of these symptoms for two weeks or more. On top of these, depression can also cause other physical symptoms: pain, stomach aches, headaches, digestive problems, or other illnesses.
If you find these symptoms hanging around pretty consistently, you should seek help as soon as possible. The quicker you can start treating this mental illness, the quicker you can get back to feeling like yourself again.
Start by reaching out to your regular physician. They can help you start setting up a treatment plan. They might also refer you to mental health professionals that they know and trust, if they feel like you need more in-depth treatment.
While there are alternative and complementary treatments for depression besides medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and benefits, and help you find what’s best for you.